Authors in Bloom Blog Hop 2017 with Kacey #recipes #giveaways #prizes #romance


Welcome to the Authors in Bloom Blog Hop!


I try very hard to eat light and well, always, but especially through the spring/summer seasons. I love salads, various kinds of lettuce and light dressings.

Here is the recipe to one of my favourites, and it is so easy to make, it’s a MUST in anyone’s recipe book



Makes 4 servings

Takes about 15 minutes total of prep time. 


2 medium cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped dill


  1. Toss together the sliced cucumbers and salt in a colander. Let stand to drain for 45 minutes. Press the excess water out of the cucumbers and pat dry. Place in a bowl.
  2. Add the yogurt and lemon juice and toss well. Stir in the sliced radishes and chopped dill. Serve chilled.


KACEY’S GIVEAWAY: Subscribe to my >> New Release Newsletter << You don’t want to miss any of these releases.

Each new subscriber will be entered to win a THREE of my backlist titles.


Here’s a look inside the newest release in my Canadian Muscle Series:

Canadian Muscle …
When Desires Need Protecting.



The Canadian Muscle series is set in Vancouver, Canada, and revolves around military men, FBI, the Vixen Dance Club and men who will do anything to protect those they love.

The series begins with Guarding Midnight, Gavin Bennett and Shree Walker. Their chemistry is immediate and palpable. Shree is new to town, and Gavin returns after being gone a long time, and while his sole purpose is to protect his best friend’s sister, there’s no denying that Gavin’s distracted by the new dancer in town. Gavin’s protection for the town against a ruthless villain is a blessing for everyone and changes his life. Danger, kidnapping, bullets flying, it all makes for an explosive adventure and a happily ever after.

In Book 2: Guarding His Anchor, Frank Shaw returns to town (who we met in book 1) and throws Charlotte Weber’s life into a tailspin. Since they wrapped up the case in Guarding Midnight, Frank has been in and out of Charlie’s life like a revolving door. Just when she’s ready to forget about Frank, he reappears and is hot on the trail of a criminal who’s wanted for murder, drug and human trafficking, and more. Unfortunately, their explosive relationship is ten times harder because the criminal he’s after, is Charlotte’s own brother. A tale of suspense, danger and conflict, Guarding His Anchor was taxing to write, but I completely loved everything about it.

There’s nothing like returning to familiar faces and the hearts that I’ve already connected with. The Canadian Muscle Series has been one of my absolute favourites to write and the characters are wrapped around my heart like fleece blankets.

At the end of Guarding His Anchor, things are set in motion for book 3 and I can’t wait to dig in and start writing that story this summer.

I hope you enjoy the Muscle as much as I did writing it!


Guarding Midnight
Series: Canadian Muscle 1
Contemporary/Suspense/Erotic Romance
ISBN: 978-1-77233-292-6
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer

No one knows sacrifice better than former Army Sergeant Gavin Bennett. He’s witnessed firsthand the emotional, physical and mental toll of being caught in the crossfire. Being a bouncer-slash-bodyguard may not be Gavin’s dream job, but he’s willing to do just about anything to help out family. When Gavin reports for his first day of work, he quickly discovers a woman who threatens to crack his legendary cool.

Shree Walker is on the run from a dark past she tried to shut away. Battered and broken, a happily ever after doesn’t exist for her. Ready to start fresh with a new life in a new city, she is happy dancing at the Vixen Club. She’d be even happier without the presence of the prickly new bouncer who won’t let anyone or anything get past his carefully guarded defenses. He’s a distraction she doesn’t need. And a temptation she can’t resist.

When Shree is kidnapped by the criminal mastermind hell-bent on taking the club at any cost, Gavin has to make a decision. Hold tight and continue to keep Shree at arm’s length. Or break down his walls and take a chance on something more powerful than them both: Love.

Read an Excerpt 

Purchase Links:

Evernight Publishing
AmazonUS / Canada / UK
B&N (Nook)
Kobo Store

Universal Links

Guarding Midnight is also available in Print. Links HERE


Guarding His Anchor
Series: Canadian Muscle 2
Contemporary/Suspense/Erotic Romance
ISBN: 978-1-77339-185-4
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer

Charlotte Weber is no stranger to heartbreak. FBI agent Frank Shaw has swept in and out of her life as though she’s a revolving door, stomping on her heart in the process. Now that she’s finally had enough, he’s back again and seems determined to spin her life out of control.

Frank knows Charlie is the anchor for his lost soul, even though he can’t risk settling down. The demons of his past are too great, and he won’t run the risk of hurting her. This time, his only objective should be locating Charlie’s brother, Sean. But Charlie’s a complication, and not just because she refuses to believe Sean is guilty.

As Frank and Charlie fight for what they believe in, they also try to resist their powerful connection. The future is unclear, but when danger surrounds them, they are each other’s only anchor.

Read an Excerpt 

Purchase Links
Evernight Publishing

Amazon – US / Canada / UK
B&N (Nook)
Kobo Store

Universal Link


GRAND PRIZE: We are giving away a ereader ($200 value). Only those visitors who visit EACH and EVERY stop are eligible for the grand prize. So, keep hopping and comment at every stop. 😀


Click here to view the list of links to the authors in the hop.

Winners will be posted on both Dianne Venetta’s blog and the BloominThyme websites.

Giveaway ends April 5th at 11:59 PM EST.

Valentine Hop and Love Songs with @KaceyHammell #BlogHop #Romance #Love @DenaGarson @WendiZwaduk Feb 12-18th


Are you ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day? With a blog hop and lots of prizes? Yes? Let’s get started then!!

Comment on this post (below) with your favorite Romantic (Love) Song. (Please be sure to leave your email and name along with your comment so I can reach you easier) to be entered to win a PDF ebook from my backlist.

Contest is open to all readers (Internationally).

Super duper easy, right?

Also, if you enter the rafflecopter giveaway below, you’re entered to win an Amazon Echo Dot like the one in the picture below.

Awesome, right??

And in sharing favorite stories about gifts, songs, romance, etc., I wanted to share how my wonderful husband spoils me rotten. Some could think that receiving the same thing every single year can get boring but for me, being a simple country girl who loves “no fuss over”, I love the bears that he gives me every year (started the year we got married, 2001). It’s fun to see what color the bears will be, what they might have written on them, and where I will find space to put it! LOL Hubs and I are not fans of flowers that just die within a week, chocolate goes straight to my hips and we don’t really need a specific day to have a quiet dinner, extra cuddle time or moments we have to steal. We spend every possible moment we can together anyway, and he showers me with lots of love, cuddles and kisses every moment possible. So the bears are a tradition now and I love every one of them as I did the first.

Here are a couple photos:



And what is my favorite love song? My wedding song with my husband of course! “Breathe” by Faith Hill is still one of my favorites and we still dance to it.*g*

Now a little about my upcoming release on February 21st, Guarding His Anchor (book 2: Canadian Muscle series).

finalGuarding His Anchor
Series: Canadian Muscle (Book 2)
Genre: Contemporary/Suspense/Erotic Romance
W.C.: 57,400
Warning: Includes biting (Odaxelagnia) during sex
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Publisher: Evernight Publishing

Canadian Muscle …
When Desires Need Protecting.

Charlotte Weber is no stranger to heartbreak. FBI agent Frank Shaw has swept in and out of her life as though she’s a revolving door, stomping on her heart in the process. Now that she’s finally had enough, he’s back again and seems determined to spin her life out of control.

Frank knows Charlie is the anchor for his lost soul, even though he can’t risk settling down. The demons of his past are too great, and he won’t run the risk of hurting her. This time, his only objective should be locating Charlie’s brother, Sean. But Charlie’s a complication, and not just because she refuses to believe Sean is guilty.

As Frank and Charlie fight for what they believe in, they also try to resist their powerful connection. The future is unclear, but when danger surrounds them, they are each other’s only anchor.

Read an Excerpt
Will be available Feb 21st at all online bookstores.


Enter for the grand prize of an Amazon Echo Dot here >>> a Rafflecopter giveawayvalentines-day-blog-hop-giveaway

Make a stop for more giveaways and info at each author’s stop


Good luck and Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

#Giveaways and Ten Favorite Lines from BRYCE by Jessica E. Subject #SFR #GalacticDefenders #Books @JSubject

book cover banner

Jessica’s Ten Favorite Lines from BRYCE: Galactic Defenders book one
(without any spoilers)

1 – Bryce raised his crossbow, lining his sights on the creature standing amongst the bushes, its branch-like tentacles undulating in the gentle breeze. Focusing the crosshairs on the alien’s torso, he drew in a deep breath. He had one shot. ==> These are the opening lines of the story. To me, it displays the intensity of the opening scene, and what is going to happen throughout the story.

2 – What child wanted to know her mother came from another planet? Or could keep the fact a secret?

3 – She’d heard the alien hunters used wormholes, but had never seen or traveled through one, and hoped to never again.

4 – “He’s probably really tired right now. Wasn’t very cooperative at first, but I managed to tame the beast.”

5 – Bryce had both Katrina and a young Kalaren on the ground doing push-ups. “Anytime you feel like releasing a little energy, this is what I want you to do.” He crouched in front of them while the other Defenders in the room watched in amusement.

6 – A little girl dashed out in front of her, jet-black curls bouncing along her shoulders. In her tattered white gown—probably a hand-me-down from an older generation—she stared up into her eyes, no reservations about approaching royalty. “Princess Lalia, where have you been? They taught us in school you were killed in the Erebus attack.”

7 – And what was she supposed to have told them? You must meet with me because I’m an alien princess? No doubt the truth would have landed her in a mental institution, or worse, a lab.

8 – A tiny head with jet-black hair peeked out from under a tree root. “Princess, is it really you?”

9 – “A planet has just been destroyed.” The thought of growling at the young Vella crossed his mind. Instead, he sidestepped him and headed to the control room to meet the leader of the Galactic Alliance. “There is no good news today.”

10 – “You may be responsible for sending them to Niesgoo, but you’re only responsible for their deaths if you leave them there to die.”




Galactic Defenders #1

by Jessica E. Subject

Release date: June 28, 2016

Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Action & Adventure

Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9948431-9-7

Print ISBN: 978-1-988428-00-0

Editor: Kate Richards

Cover artist: Fantasia Frog Designs

Keywords: reunited lovers, rescue, aliens, romance, love, royalty, military

# of pages: 119 ebook, 185 print

# of words: 37,050


A dedicated Defender…

Bryce fell in love once, but after Lalia was ripped away from him, he locked his heart from feeling anything for anyone else. Instead, he devotes his life to the Galactic Alliance, killing every bloodthirsty Erebus he comes across.

A shunned princess…

Lalia Comosova fell in love with the wrong man. When her parents learned of her transgressions, they sent her to Earth to hide her error in judgment from the rest of the kingdom.

A second chance?

When these lovers are reunited after many years apart, they have a chance to find happiness together. But fate steps in and threatens to rip them apart as it did years ago.

Bryce 2


Amazon US –

Amazon UK –

Amazon Canada –

All Romance –

Nook –

Google Play –

iBooks –

Kobo –


Amazon US –

Amazon UK –

Amazon Canada –

CreateSpace –



Bryce raised his crossbow, lining his sights on the creature standing amongst the bushes, its branch-like tentacles undulating in the gentle breeze. Focusing the crosshairs on the alien’s torso, he drew in a deep breath. He had one shot. If he missed, the Erebus would cry out and alert the natives of Terra to its existence, resulting in more casualties. At first glance, no one on the planet, also called Earth, would believe an Erebus anything more than an overgrown bush, but Bryce knew the truth. He’d trained to hunt the creatures from childhood.

Each step carefully placed, he advanced until he stood twenty feet from the Erebus, no chance to miss the shot. With a slight movement of his finger, he squeezed the trigger, sending a zuranium-tipped arrow racing toward the alien.

“Quinn, would you grab me another garbage bag?”

Fornax. The creature lunged toward the female voice, Bryce’s arrow stuck in one of its tentacles. A kill, but not instant.

He loaded another arrow. At the risk of being seen, he charged through the hedges. He had to cut the Erebus off before it had a chance to kill the Terran. He leaped over metal furniture and large urns, keeping his focus on the creature.

“What the hell? Get out of my yard!”

The woman rushed him, but Bryce darted around her. When the Erebus lumbered in front of him, he raised his weapon and fired. A clean shot to the middle. The creature dropped like a fallen log, crushing the furniture it landed on.

Bryce loaded the crossbow again. No time to celebrate the kill. He had to worry about the possibility of other Erebus in the area, along with the Terran woman who had seen him. Instead of running away screaming, as he’d expected her to do, she stared, wide-eyed in horror. Not at him, but the Erebus. Her body trembled as she shuffled backward, mumbling incomprehensible words.

An unexpected sense of familiarity washed over him. He couldn’t draw his attention away from her slim figure, the way her long brown hair flowed over her shoulders. Far more attractive than he’d pictured the Terrans when others talked about them. He took a closer glance. Lalia? How had she traveled so far from home without anyone knowing? She was no stranger, and definitely not Terran. Or, perhaps she was simply a doppelganger of the woman he’d once loved. He had the sudden urge to comfort her, relieve her worry. Hold her in his arms the way he had many years ago. But what if the missing princess had somehow made her way to a planet unaware life existed beyond their own? After she’d left Hemera and him behind without so much as a goodbye, he’d searched everywhere. Though not once had he thought to look on Terra.

A ground-shattering bellow pierced the night. Bryce spun around, finding himself face-to-face with another Erebus. It stared at him with beady red eyes. Thick black goop dripped from its mouth.

Bryce raised his bow, but the creature slammed him with one of its tentacles, flinging him back. The Erebus lunged at Lalia.

Rolling to his knees, Bryce aimed and fired. He hit the alien from behind, launching it forward. Onto his former lover. Slinging the bow over his shoulder, he raced toward her. The creature’s tentacles still pulsed, even though dead. Careful not to trip himself up, he shoved his hands under the creature’s torso and heaved it off her.

Lalia stood immediately and wiped the black goop from her clothes, as if she hadn’t been flattened by an alien. “They weren’t supposed to follow me. I was supposed to be safe here.”



Jessica E. Subject is the author of science fiction romance, mostly alien romances, ranging from sweet to super hot. Sometimes she dabbles in paranormal and contemporary as well, bringing to life a wide variety of characters. In her stories, you could not only meet a sexy alien or two, but also clones and androids. You may be transported to a dystopian world where rebels are fighting to live and love, or to another planet for a romantic rendezvous.

When Jessica isn’t reading, writing, or doing dreaded housework, she likes to get out and walk with her giant, hairy dog her family adopted from the local animal shelter.

Jessica lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two energetic children. And she loves to hear from her readers. You can find her at


Website –

Newsletter –

Twitter –

Facebook Page –

Facebook Reader Group –

Pinterest –

Instagram –

Google+ –

Amazon Author Page –

Goodreads Page –

Authorgraph –



Not only is Jessica E. Subject celebrating the release of BRYCE, the first book in her Galactic Defenders series, she is also celebrating FIVE years published. And she is offering three fabulous prize packages. Contests are open as stated, except where prohibited by law. Must be 18 or older to enter. Contest will close July 24, and winners will be notified by email. Good luck!

RTC Giveaway (Canada/US only) includes:

3013: Renegade by Susan Hayes (signed)

Reader Abduction by Eve Langlais (signed)

As Cold As Ice by Mandy Rosko (signed)

Alien Next Door: The Complete Series by Jessica E. Subject (signed)

Cosmic Desires by Jessica E. Subject (signed)

other goodies from some of the authors who attended Romancing the Capital

My Favorite Things Giveaway (Canada/US only) includes:

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

The Martian by Andy Weir

Alien Next Door: The Complete Series by Jessica E. Subject (signed)

Cosmic Desires by Jessica E. Subject (signed)

Bryce by Jessica E. Subject (signed)

International Only Giveaway includes:

Alien Next Door: The Complete Series by Jessica E. Subject (signed)

Cosmic Desires by Jessica E. Subject (signed)

Bryce by Jessica E. Subject (signed)


Direct Rafflecopter Link:



#TRRParty ~ Feb 1-29 Mega Anniversary & Valentine’s Party #games #giveaways #giftcards #prizes


Happy February!!


I’m participating this month in The Romance Reviews Mega Anniversary and Valentine’s Party which begins today and runs ALL month long!!

There are more than 300 participating authors and publishers, as well as more than 300 prizes up for grabs during the whole month.

Grand prize is $200 Amazon Gift Certificate! Plus over $300 Gift Certificates and more than 300 book giveaways!

For the rules/mechanics of the event, visit TRR’s Event Page for full details.  Readers MUST be logged into TRR in order to play the game. This way your points will be tracked and tallied. Registration is free and easy.

My Q&A specifically will be on Feb 23rd.

For a full list of prizes, click here


I hope you all take the chance to win some awesome prizes, and have fun all month long!!

Happy Reading & Stay Warm!!!





Happy 5th Birthday Evernight Publishing! #MustReads #Celebration #Giveaways #Prizes @EvernightPub

Evernight Celebrates 5 Years of Publishing!


Thanks to readers like you, Evernight Publishing has grown by leaps and bounds in five years so they’re pulling out all the stops and throwing an extreme BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION BLOG HOP in your honor!

That’s right! It’s Evernight’s birthday but YOU get the presents…
Prizes include:
Apple Watch Sport
NEW Kindle Paperwhite
Fitbit Flex
Evernight, Amazon, and ARe Gift Certificates
Plus, each author on the hop will offer his/her own special prize!

I’m so honored to be an Evernight Author! I have loved being a part of their family since 2012 when DARE was first published. My writing has evolved over the years, thanks to the support of everyone involved at EP. The authors are amazing, the whole staff is fantastic and I’m so proud to be a part of the family!

Happy birthday Evernight Publishing! Here’s to many more years of working together!!

My first release with Evernight as I said was DARE.

74940-darecover373Legal secretary, Olivia Warner enjoys being single and, aside from her closest gal pals, usually keeps to herself. But the night of her thirty-fourth birthday, she and her friends spend a fun-filled evening at a local bar where her friends dare her to approach a man, and spend the night with him. Olivia’s not one to turn down a dare, especially from her old college pals. She only hopes the man in question is in for some good conversation, because that is all she’ll give him.

Darren “Dare” Shalvis has given up on women. He’s tired of being chased for his money, good looks, and prowess in bed. He prefers to meet a woman who, for once, wants nothing more from him than mere conversation. If only the woman asking him to spend the night with her wasn’t his favorite legal secretary.

Accepting a dare has never been so tempting…

More about DARE

I’m super proud of DARE and the reader’s responses to it has been outstanding. Thank you to everyone who loves DARE as much as I do.

And thank you to everyone who has made my latest release, a paranormal shifter no less (I told you I evolved over the years and have now written a cat shifter!!!), FIGHTING FOR HONOR.

KH_Available2Read more about Fighting for Honor


To celebrate Evernight’s birthday, I’m giving away FIVE EBOOK copies of my first title there, DARE. (5 winners!!)

To enter, please join my mailing list — HERE — then come back and comment below with your name and email that you joined with. It’s that easy!!

It’s a great time for an Evernight shopping spree because all Evernight titles are 25% off through October 9th at AllRomance eBooks!
AReSaleFind all my titles at All Romance eBooks — HERE

To enter the Rafflecopter Grand Prizea Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep on Hopping … Hop to the next stop by clicking here!

Fall Into Reading with Books N Pearls ~ Paranormal Blog Hop Sept 18-20 #Writers #Readers #Rafflecopter #Prizes

fir paranormal
This weekend kicks off the Paranormal Edition. The Blog Links will each feature a different author, and you’ll find the genre’s coordinating Rafflecopter linked at each post so when you leave a comment, you can submit an entry for commenting on that blog. And to top it all off, there will be events each of the three weekends with some of our authors; more fun & more prizes. So don’t miss a chance to win. Thank you for following. I hope you fall into a new favorite, because as the temps become more tolerable for outside reading, you’ll need new material.

PARANORMAL Blog Hop Sept 18, Event Sept 18, 19, 20
Facebook Event->
Party Schedule:

Friday: all times listed are Eastern
5 p.m. Brenda Tetreault
6 p.m. L. Bachman
7 p.m. Kacey Hammell
8 p.m. L.D. Rose
9 p.m. Renea Mason
10 p.m. Ashlynne Laynne
11 p.m. Krystal White
4 p.m. Shauna Aura Knight
5 p.m. L. Bachman
6 p.m. JC Stockli
7 p.m. Jena Baxter
8 p.m. Brenda Tetreault
9 p.m. Rissa Blakeley
10 p.m. Margaret Madigan
11 p.m. Louisa Bacio

4 p.m. Laila Raimes
5 p.m. L. Bachman
6 p.m. Missy Lynn Ryan
7 p.m. Brenda Tetreault
8 p.m. Felicity Kates
9 p.m. Michelle Rabe
10 p.m.Rosanna Leo

Visit these blogs to participate in the Blog Hop giveaway!
Featured Authors⇔Participating Blogs

Alice K. Wayne⇔Pukah Works
Ashlynne Laynne⇔Deal Sharing Aunt
Brenda Tetreault⇔Warrior Woman Winmill
Carole Anne Moleti⇔ A Bookaholic’s Fix: Feeding the Addiction
Dahlia Donovan⇔STANDARD ISHUE–Katie
Demelza Carlton⇔ L.D. Rose
Felicity Kates⇔Love Knows No Bounds (Louisa Bacio)
Jena Baxter⇔Haley Whitehall
JC Stockli⇔3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
Kacey Hammell⇔Ebook Addicts
Kris Hack⇔Carole Ann Moleti
Krystal White⇔The Naughty Librarian’s Playground
L. Bachman⇔Paranormal Romance and Beyond
Laila Raimes⇔Paranormaly Yours
L.D. Rose⇔Making it Happen
Louisa Bacio⇔The Ultimate Fan Blog
Margaret Madigan⇔Angel’s Guilty Pleasures
Michelle Rabe⇔Imaginative Dreams
Missy Lynn Ryan⇔The Phantom Paragrapher
Renea Mason⇔My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews
Rissa Blakeley⇔SSP
Rosanna Leo⇔L. Bachman
Shauna Aura Knight⇔Books N Pearls
Susan Hanniford Crowley⇔Between The Lines

// a Rafflecopter giveaway//

HISTORICAL Blog Hop Sept 25, Event Sept 26
Facebook Event->

// a Rafflecopter giveaway//

UF/FR/SCIFI Blog Hop Sept 25, Event Sept 27
Facebook Event->

// a Rafflecopter giveaway//

ROMANCE Blog Hop October 2, Event October 3&4
Facebook Event->

// a Rafflecopter giveaway



In the Pages of a Good Book is One!! #Blog Hop #Friendship #Giveaways

blog-inviteWelcome to my stop for “In the Pages of a Good Book” Blog Hop. This hop revolves around friendship and bonds.

Sadly, most of the friends I have near me locally, don’t share my passion for Romance stories, so many of the greatest friendships have been made online. I’ve had the pleasure of finding readers from all around the world who love a lot of the same books/authors as I do. Through the numerous talks about each character, the heroes that we all lust after, I’ve come to know so many people whom I’ve come to care about and have met a few face to face through different conferences. I’ve learned a lot from many of these friends and cherish the love of reading we all share.

I think my favorite friendship in any of my books is that of Olivia, Holly, Jessica and Candy in DARE. The group of ladies mean so much to me. I loved writing their story.

Here’s a little glimpse into their shenanigans. *g*

DARE Excerpt © Kacey Hammell,2014

“It’s Liv’s birthday.” After a wink at Jessica, and Candy, Holly shuffled her chair closer to Olivia.

74940-darecover373With trepidation, Olivia scowled at her friends. “What are you three up to? Holly, what else do you have up your sleeve?”

Brunette, feisty and always up for a party, Holly Walsh laughed. “Absolutely nothing. Whatever would give you an idea we were up to something?”

Olivia was certain she was batting her eyelashes like a naughty little girl, but with the lights low she couldn’t confirm it. Even the beams flickering over the dance floor did little to shed illumination on the table they were at.

“I know you guys. You’re always up to something on one of our birthdays. On Jessica’s, you made me go to that party.” Olivia looked at Jessica and saw her flinch.

Jessica’s last birthday had been enjoyable…for the most part. They’d gotten together at her place, watched old movies and drank Chardonnay until they could barely walk. They’d gifted her with a spa day, complete with mud baths, facials and massage. Everything was fine until they went to a Jack & Jill for two of their college friends later that night. Much to Jessica’s shock and embarrassment, her old college crush, Brock, also attended—which none of them told her about.

Though she’d steered clear of him, Brock had cornered her out in the backyard, among some trees and shadowed by darkness. Jessica had returned in a huff, red-faced, her clothes a bit askew. They’d left soon after. Jessica never divulged what had really gone on out there but she’d let it slip that she prayed to never run into Brock Daly again.

“Oh, come on,” Holly’s voice drew Olivia from her thoughts. “We didn’t mean any harm and Jessie knows it.”

Jessica nodded. “Right. But it’s your birthday. Tonight’s all about you.”

“Thank you. I’m glad we could celebrate it together.” Olivia meant every word; she lifted her glass in a toast to her girls, and smiled. There was nothing like an evening with best friends to turn a bad day into something pleasant.

Even if they’d make her do something stupid…

“As if we’d have anything better to do on your birthday. Besides we have our traditions,” Candy interjected, smirking.

Before Olivia could say anything, Holly rushed on. “Yes we do. But first, open your gift. It’s the perfect present, you’ll love it.”

She was more than curious to see where her friends might be sending her. Giddy, she smiled. She wouldn’t turn down a vacation.

She grabbed the envelope from Holly, ripped the bow off the back, and pulled out a birthday card.

A naked, bare-chested hunk donned the front cover. Though it was just fabulous muscles, no face or head, her heart did a flip-flop just seeing such gorgeousness in front of her.

Hmm, what wonderful abs. What I wouldn’t give to find a man as yummy as this one…

Laughing, she gave his chest a smooch, which caused them all to cheer. Opening the card, she pulled off a pink gift card where it was taped.

Naughty Pieces.

She’d never heard of it, and the tagline, Finding Everything One Needs and Wants…One Piece at a Time did not provide any clues. Plus the address wasn’t familiar. And it sounded like a furniture store to her.

As she opened her mouth to speak, the waitress set more drinks in front of them. She should have told Candy not to buy her another drink. Three Long Island Iced Teas were more than enough.

She glanced around the table. “Okay, girls, I’m curious. I’ve never heard of this place. What is it?”

“It’s a woman’s adult store. Lingerie, dildos, clamps, flavored lotions. Everything a girl needs for herself,” Candy replied.

Olivia frowned, picked up her drink and emptied it.

Jessica tried to look busy as she sucked the olive from the martini’s toothpick.

Of all the presents for her friends to get her—she cried a little inside that it wasn’t a vacation—their so-called gift was something that would never cross her mind.

Sex toys.

She arched a brow, and looked at each of her friends in turn. “Well I suppose Leroy is getting a bit old.”

The girls’ eyes widened, then they all burst out laughing.

“I told you she’d love her gift!” Holly giggled. “How old is Leroy now?”

Olivia tapped a finger on her chin. “Probably four or five. Poor thing hasn’t died of sterilization yet.”

“With three hundred dollars, I’m sure you’ll find others to take his place.”

“Jesus!” Olivia gawked at her pals. “Three hundred dollars. You guys shouldn’t have spent so much! I mean, come on, that’s more than I’ll ever need in…toys.”

“Remember, they have lingerie too. Nothing better than some silk and lace against a woman’s tits and clit,” Candy joked and clicked her glass against Olivia’s.

Olivia’s head spun. She wasn’t sure if it was from the alcohol or the thought of shopping for lingerie. Not like she had a man in her life to show it off to.

But she had promised herself that she’d get out more. Maybe find her kind of right man and fall in love. Her parents had been married fifty-two years. She believed in love and marriage. It would happen when it happened.

She did yearn for male companionship from time to time. But as she watched the sea of bodies writhe against each other on the dance floor, the men and women flirt at the bar, she didn’t want to enter the ‘dating pool’ for any amount of money.

The singles scene was hell. From her standpoint, no one searched for Mr. and Mrs. Right anymore. They only wanted the ‘Right Now’ relationships and to play the field. While Olivia wasn’t one to get on a soapbox and lecture about safe sex, she didn’t agree with the freeness of having it with a lot of people, either.

Very particular about whom she let into her life, and bed, Olivia had only had three lovers. All were men she trusted and had known for months before the relationship turned physical.

Which was why she trusted Leroy, her red rubber boyfriend, that she kept tucked away in the nightstand beside her bed. He didn’t talk back, never let her down, and was never unfaithful.

“And of course, you know that’s not all. You have our dare, don’t forget!” Jessica exclaimed.

Olivia blinked, Jessica’s statement registering.

Her mouth suddenly felt like paste at the mention of their yearly ritual.

Heart lodged in her throat, she stared at her grinning friends, all of whom were obviously very pleased with themselves.

“Okay, let’s have it.” She put the gift card in the back pocket of her jeans and leaned her elbows on the table.

Since college, the girls always issued dares. Some had been harmless, though some had also been downright crazy. Hell, Candy had lost her virginity on a dare, something she was still pleased about to this day. Holly had dared her to sneak into the football team captain’s dorm room and steal his boxers.

When ninety minutes had passed, the girls had headed to the Fraternity House to find out what happened when Candy descended the front steps, grinning like a fool. The jock—Olivia couldn’t remember his name now—had yelled from the window and let something drop from his hand. They were all shocked when Candy’s purple bra landed on Jessica’s shoulder.

“You need a man in your life, Liv,” Candy said, smiling.

A shiver of unease slid down Olivia’s back.

“Yes, yes, Candy, we know,” Holly grumbled. “You have lots. But tonight isn’t about you. We’re only talking about one night for our Olivia. A happy evening and happy trails the next morning. She needs s-e-x. That’s why we want her to have a man.”

“Hey,” Olivia interjected, insulted, and the dare forgotten. “I can find my own man and sex—which I can say out loud instead of spell it—is not an issue for me.”

“Right, Leroy, we know,” Candy groused. “But Mr. Red isn’t flesh and blood. You need a real man, just for you.”

“All right. I’ll play along. Where is he? What’s his name?” She scanned the room, wondered if this flesh-and-blood male was hidden in the wings.

“We don’t know. That’s for you to decide,” Holly said.

Olivia frowned. “What do you mean, for me to decide? Explain.”

“Well, we’re calling a dare.” Jessica blushed.

“What! You’re—what?”

They were confusing her with the talk of a date and a dare. What did they have in com…

Oh god, they wouldn’t!

“Look…” Olivia began.

“No, too late.” Holly grinned, slapping the table. “It’s issued. As soon as Jessie said it, it was done.”

She should have just stayed home. A quiet evening of reading or watching TV, or lounging in a bath full of bubbles with candles flickering and jazz music playing wouldn’t have led to this.

Olivia raised her head, glared at Candy. “I won’t. No.” She adamantly refused.

Holly sat back in her seat, arms folded. “I told you she wouldn’t do it. She’s chicken.”

Olivia’s hackles rose. Damn, Holly. She knew she hated to be called chicken. She just didn’t see the point in forcing her to go out with someone. He was probably a computer geek with a high IQ and square-framed glasses. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but it was not the vision of her kind of date.

“Olivia, come on,” Jessica implored. “We’re not going to dare you to do anything that will totally upset you. We just want you to find a man for the evening—for tonight—and have a bit of fun. You never just kick up your heels and let loose.”

“A night of fun? Tonight! You mean for me to do the dare tonight? Come on, where am I going to find a guy to hang out with all night?”

Her friends, though she wouldn’t call them that at the moment, gazed around the bar. Olivia shook her head. “No. Absolutely not. I am not picking up a guy in this place. I don’t see one guy I know or have seen before.”

“Chicken,” Holly grumbled, loud enough for Olivia to hear.

Olivia turned her head and shot daggers Holly’s way. “Shut up.”

“The official dare, Holly, if you please,” Candy piped up.

“No. Wait.”

“Olivia must find a man—of her own choosing—and spend all night with him. Just the two of them, and she must not leave his presence before eight tomorrow morning.”

Olivia dropped her head into her hands, wanting to scream.


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